Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
The resurrection/reboot of “Star Wars” is unfortunately the most anticipated film of 2015. Why Unfortunately? Because there are so many stirring, moving, life changing and truly must see films this year which are being drowned out on social media, mass marketing and being pushed off of theater screens to make way for “The Force Awakens.” Director JJ Abrams had great success reimagining Star Trek and the former television series creator again proves his intelligence and intuition with “The Force Awakens,” as he takes the reigns from creator George Lucas who sold the franchise to Disney in 2002. The new Star Wars might not turn haters into fans or win a slew of awards, but it does move the saga along in a way that is entertaining to more than just fanboys.
Thirty years have passed since The Rebel Alliance, now The Resistance, defeated The Empire and brought peace to the galaxy. Princess Leia, now a general, has sent her best pilot Poe Dameron (Isaac) to Jakku, to bring back an important artifact which will help the resistance find the missing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Rey (Ridley) is a young scavenger on Jakku, a friendless orphan who hopes her parents will someday return for her. She comes in contact with Poe’s quirky orange and white robot, BB-8, along with former storm trooper FM2187 or “Finn” (Boyega) as he is renamed. The two bring her into a world of danger. Ultimately the trio risk everything as they learn the importance of the artifact and what’s at stake. The Empire, now the First Order, is intent on destroying any planet friendly with the resistance.
Abrams brave new vision for this series seems to be the one Lucas could never quite get right.
As someone who didn’t grow up watching “Star Wars” films, nor am I a fan of the franchise, it’s interesting to see Abrams take “Star Wars” in a direction Lucas would have never dared. I’m not talking about plot, you won’t find spoilers here. I’m talking about the new culturally diverse cast alongside nearly all surviving characters from the original (Lando Calrissian was notably absent). The two biggest differences between Lucas and Abrams “Star Wars” is first and foremost the editing style; it brings the series into the 21st Century. The other notable difference is the equality of sexes. Female characters aplenty, are given as much, or more, importance as the males. Besides our lead star Rey and General Leia, “Game of Thrones” actress Gwendoline Christie is commander of the storm troopers (although we never see her face) and there are others. That’s a big step considering the original only had Fisher in skimpy outfits and the prequels only female was Natalie Portman.
Abrams presentation of The First Order might be an allegory to modern day North Korea or maybe their red and black logos signal another historical dictator. Either way their villains, including the mysteriously masked Kylo Ren fill the void left by Darth Vader. Characters we know from the original are referred to as legends or myths by the new, younger characters. “Hans Solo is real?” Rey asks when Harrison Ford’s career launching character appears on screen for the first time. While this film is still heavy on the special effects and action scenes, it uses every moment in between to thrust as much character development at us as possible. Newcomer Daisy Ridley is the heart of the story, someone who will have more development in the ongoing and upcoming films, not to mention the likely creation of a new Hollywood star. Abrams brave new vision for this series seems to be the one Lucas could never quite get right.
Bold new vision puts women front and center of the fanboy franchise.